Most people I know watch films and TV shows of all genres. Many people I know read a lot of different genres. People might have a favourite, but they generally won’t restrict themselves to just one or two exclusively.
So why do I have to write just one genre? My last two novel ideas were crossover; they didn’t really fit squarely into one genre, but crossed over a couple. This is part of the reason I love to write young adult. Your stories don’t need to tick a box and fit on a certain shelf when you write for young adults because they have a shelf of their own.
I know I’m fighting a losing battle asking for this to change. When you read something you love, you automatically want to pick up something the same. Publishers want that to be the author’s next book. It can’t be an accident that there are so few adult fiction authors who publish across multiple genres and keep the same author name on all of them. Is this a reflection of what readers want, or the expectations publishers set for them?
Surely it can only be a good thing if an author introduces their fans to a new genre by writing something different, or it gives the author a chance to pick up new readers in a genre they haven’t worked in before. As readers, we are not silly, we know which shelf we’ve picked the book from. If I found Stephen King in the romance section, that would encourage me to try it, not ignore it because ‘he writes horror’. I’m sure I’m not the only one like that out there.